Sacrifice

Think about the thing you’re really passionate about- that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. No one would argue that you’re dedicated, you work hard and orient your life around it. But what sacrifices are you willing to make for it? 

Chances are high that you already make some sacrifices for it. You dedicate and sacrifice your free time, if it’s a physical pursuit you sacrifice your body’s well being at times too. When you look forward and you picture yourself still committed to your passion in five, ten, fifteen years from now what sacrifices do you anticipate you will have to make for it? You’re going to have to sacrifice more time; time with friends and family, time that you may want to use for other things. You’re going to have to sacrifice even more of your well being (physically and mentally). Some of these sacrifices could completely change your life. So anticipate them and ask yourself: are you willing to make them?

If you are not willing to sacrifice for your chosen pursuit, you are not pursuing the right thing. Only your true passion- your calling in life- will make you feel willing to sacrifice endlessly for it. Your passion should be the driving force in your life, so why would you only half dedicate yourself to it? Think about those at the highest echelons of human achievement; they did not get there by compromising or by holding back. Sacrifice is the price demanded by success, make sure you are willing to pay the price.

Allowing yourself the space for creativity

Many of us, in the pursuits we are passionate about, have the space to be creative and express ourselves in a true, honest way.

One thing we need to be aware of is that sometimes our focus can narrow and we can become absorbed by single facets of our pursuit. This can leave us without the space to find creative solutions- or to express creativity- because we become hyper-focused on the single thing directly in front of us. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and allow ourselves that space for creativity again.

For myself, my biggest creative pursuit is within Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and I’m constantly trying to find new ways to open up pathways to express myself within the (martial) art form. At times, I’ve felt like I had hit the dreaded “plateau”; where I felt like I was at a point of stasis and not seeing any improvement. I would be dissatisfied because I could not find success with the single thing that I was working on.

But the solution in cases like this is actually very simple. Sometimes, we narrow our focus too much and do not allow for the state of flow to occur, limiting our creativity and ultimately our ability to experiment & improve. When we become too objective focused, we dedicate all of our attention to completing that objective and forget to prioritize other equally important aspects.

A lot of practitioners talk about “opening up their game”. I think that this in a way refers to attending to the creative learning often required within BJJ and other martial arts or sports. Shouldn’t we always open up our games? By allowing ourselves the space to work creatively to solve the problems presented us, we will plateau less, enjoy training more and find more satisfaction when things do start to come together as a result.

Learning Styles: Understanding how you learn.

All of us know what it’s like to start something new; to be a complete beginner and learn how to do something from scratch. Progress can be slow at times, even frustrating, but we must learn if we hope to become proficient in our chosen area. Martial Arts (Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in particular) has taught me a many great deal of things so far, including how I learn best.

When it comes to learning, the modern consensus is that no two people learn in the same way. We are all different people, so it stands to reason that we will learn differently too. Better understanding how you learn may be the edge you need to help fast track your improvement and progress.  Continue reading

Competition Mindset: The Do’s & Don’ts

Participating in competition provides a huge opportunity to receive some important  feedback about your Jiu-jitsu. Competing helps to sharpen the blade in a way that not even highly demanding training can; you will find out very quickly what works and what doesn’t.

More importantly, you will also learn a lot about yourself; how you deal with stress, how you deal with winning & losing and how to develop strategy & positive training habits. Competition can offer all of these things to the practitioner who adopts the correct mindset for competing. There are some Do’s & Don’ts for developing a good mindset for competition, this article will take a closer look at some of these and hopefully help you develop a mental edge going into your next competition experience.  Continue reading

The Devil is in the Detail: Paying attention to the small things and being detail oriented.

One of the most important aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the importance of details. When executing a technique, there a certain number of details you must incorporate to perform the move correctly and efficiently. Being detail oriented can make for slow progress at times, however later progression becomes accelerated as your execution of techniques (once learned) never hits a critical mass of errors that lead to the technique being applied failing.

The phrase: “The Devil is in the Detail” is profoundly true within BJJ for this reason. However, understanding and committing to a Detail Oriented approach can have major benefits for any other aspect of your life too.

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Keep Climbing: Thoughts on Reaching lofty heights and New Horizons.

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“The higher we go, the wider our horizons become- and the bigger the challenge of looking beyond them”

Yuri Milner

When we set ourselves goals, they often are (and should be) ambitious. The person you are currently may not even be able to achieve that goal. This is a good thing; it means you will have to grow as a person to achieve it.

Climbing a mountain provides a good analogy to achieving a goal. From the foot of the mountain, the peak seems so far away. We may not even have a plan yet on how to climb the mountain yet, but we know that somehow we will find a way. I’ve talked before about setting goals and how to find success at reaching those goals, but what about once we’ve reached them? What’s next? From the peak of the mountain, we can see further. Once we reach success with one goal, we can start to set another.  Continue reading

Learn Self Control or Learn to be Controlled.

I’ve talked about discipline here before, but I am a firm believer that this is the cornerstone of achieving anything worthwhile in your life. Before I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I had no self control. I couldn’t control my temper, I was easily frustrated by tasks that I believed I should have been able to do and I would quit or give up and I was lazy.

Since then, I’ve come to realize a few things about myself and about how we should act if we want to get anywhere close to satisfaction- or success- with our lives. One of the most important things I’ve come to learn is that If you can’t learn to control yourself, you will be controlled by others. These others can be people, circumstances, bad or good situations that you find yourself in.  Continue reading

No Trying, Only Doing.

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As a big Star Wars fan, I’ve always noticed the close parallels between the protagonists of  George Lucas’ universe: The Jedi, and practitioners of the Martial Arts. Yoda, the ageing grand master and ever-wise mentor, is of particular interest to me and one of his many classic quotes will form the central idea of this post.

The stoic and philosophical nature of his character has been described by some as “mystical”, however I would argue that is less “mystical” and more “methodical”. For anyone involved in the martial arts, creative arts (or any  discipline really); I think we can all begin to glean some deep understandings from one of my favorite Yoda quotes: “Try not, do or do not. There is no Try.” Continue reading

Being True to yourself: Thoughts on Integrity and Principles.

Plato once said “All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue.” When I think of Plato’s idea of Virtue, two things come to mind: Integrity and Principles. 

Regardless of the society we live in, the laws that govern us or any other external factors; the primary compass through which our lives are guided are our internal Principles. These Principles form the code by which we live by; they form our Integrity as people and, in my opinion, they are the Virtues that Plato expounded as our means to live by.

So what does it mean to have integrity? How do we preserve ours? We live in a world that demands much of us, at times we may even feel pressured to compromise our own principles for a (perceived) beneficial outcome. Continue reading